Charlotte’s Better Business Bureau is advising local residents to ignore mailers from an entity called the National Processing Center offering information on insurance to cover funeral expenses.
The Washington, D.C.-based National Processing Center, which is not to be confused with the U.S. Census Bureau’s statistics-gathering hub of the same name, has an F rating from its local BBB. National Processing Center is a trade name used by Texas-based America’s Recommended Mailers, which calls itself a direct mail advertiser.
The paid-postage mailers, addressed to North Carolina residents between the ages of 50 and 85, tell recipients they can apply for a “new state regulated life insurance program to pay for final expenses for just pennies a day, regardless of your medical condition, even if you’ve been turned down before.”
On the side of the mailer with the fill-in fields is the fine print: “Not affiliated with any government agency.”
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When mailer recipients fill out and send back its mailers, ARM bundles the customer information and sells it to insurance companies that have hired it to generate leads, said Tom Bartholomy, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont in Charlotte.
Bartholomy said it doesn’t appear that the company is connected to identity theft but that people should be “on guard” about volunteering personal information.
“The information they’re asking for (name, address, phone number and birth date) can give them enough to dig deeper on you as an individual, possibly get the last four digits of your Social Security number, possibly access financial information,” Bartholomy said. “So it’s enough information for them to have a gateway to get more about you.”
Tina Hennessy, a co-owner of America’s Recommended Mailers, was unaware of the F rating and says the company works to be transparent.
“We’ve been open for 22 years, and never has anyone ever been harmed. Never would I take advantage of anyone,” Hennessy told the Observer.
She said the company sells customer information to insurance companies, which she declined to identify.
NPC’s F rating stems from failure to respond to half of its complaints and failure to be transparent about ownership, location or products and services offered, Bartholomy said. ARM, which is not customer-facing, has an A rating.
“If you have insurance through anybody on your home, your car, chances are, they’ll be able to sell you life insurance as well. That way you know that you’re dealing with somebody that you know and that you trust,” Bartholomy said.